Seize This Opportunity to Learn about Your Engine

Dear Car Talk:

I was told I have a seized engine in my 2012 Hyundai, with a 3.5 V6.

How does one check to confirm this conclusion? — Blair

When you pick up your checkbook, Blair, do you hear a whooshing sound? The sound of money rapidly leaving your account is a pretty good confirmation.

I assume your car suddenly died on you, and the engine would not restart. The first thing we’d do is check your engine oil level.

Running out of oil is a frequent cause of engine seizing. So, if you’re out of oil, that’s a big clue that you ran out of lubrication, and your engine parts rubbed themselves together into a permanent sculpture, rather than a functioning engine. If checking the oil is inconclusive, or if there is still sufficient oil in the crankcase, we’ll try to turn the crankshaft with a wrench.

Every crankshaft has a pulley, which is held on by a bolt on the front of the engine. You can put a wrench on that bolt and use it to try to turn the crankshaft. So, we’ll put a socket on the bolt, attach a breaker bar and see if the crankshaft will turn. If it won’t turn, that tells you that you no longer have engine parts. You have an engine part.

If you don’t have confidence in the mechanic who diagnosed it for you, you can have it towed to a mechanic you trust more and ask him to do these tests.

However, if you know you did something drastic, like never changing the oil, running the car out of oil, or overheating the bejeebers out of the engine, then you may very well have seized it, Blair. In which case, the engine is toast.

That means it’s time to film “The Blair Engine Project.” Or “The Buy Blair a New Car Project.” Good luck.

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